Know what NFC is and the practical uses of this wireless technology

Know what NFC is and the practical uses of this wireless technology

Most smart phones are equipped with NFC technology. You may not have noticed, but it is likely that your phone is using NFC right now. Do not worry, this tool uses very little battery and reduced processing power, but in return it offers a number of benefits that improve the functionality of your device. You don't know what NFC is and what it is for? Although it is widely used in payment and data transfer applications, it has many other uses that can make your life easier.

What is NFC?

What is NFC

NFC means near field communication (near field communication, in English) and allows phones, tablets, laptops and other devices to share data easily. Evolution from the radiofrequency identification (RFID) technology, which is behind the card that allows you to enter every morning to your work or as the one with the device to pay the toll on the road .

NFC is similar to RFID, but is limited to communication over a distance of approximately four inches (10 centimeters), so you should keep your phone as close to the contactless reader if you use Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.

The majority considers that the small radio with which NFC works provides greater security, one of the reasons why this technology has taken off as a safe alternative for credit cards. However, NFC has many more uses than paying for coffee at Starbucks. It is also useful for transferring data such as videos, contact information and photos between two devices that have NFC.

How does NFC work?

Unlike Bluetooth, to use NFC you don't need any pairing between the devices to start the data transfer. The connection starts automatically when another NFC device enters the four-inch range. Once within range, the two devices communicate and send messages to the user. NFC has great potential and that's why we detail three ways for you to take advantage.

Payments with NFC

Mobile payments

If you place your smart phone less than four inches from the contactless reader in a store, your digital wallet will be displayed and ask you to confirm the payment. With Apple Pay, this is done by placing your finger on the Touch ID function of the home button or scanning the face with Face ID. It also works with Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Share between Android devices

NFC allows you to share content between Android devices

When two Android devices equipped with NFC are within the radio, a message will appear asking if you want to “stream” some content (videos, contact information or photos) to the other device. The devices between Android versions 4 and 9 needed Android Beam to complete this process, but it was a little known feature, which can explain whether it will be replaced by Google Fast Share on Android 10.

NFC chips

These are labels that can be programmed with applications such as Tasker to perform certain tasks once you scan them. For example, you can put a label on your desktop and with a quick scan, you can set your phone to vibrate, disable GPS or only allow notifications related to work, among other options.

What devices have NFC?

The list of devices equipped with NFC grows every day. To keep track of those who take advantage of this technology, NFC World maintains an updated list. Many Android devices have NFC and all iPhone 6 and later phones also include the feature.

IPhone 6 and later phones

For years, Apple restricted the use of NFC on its computers to make purchases. However, the latest versions of the iPhone, including the iPhone 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max and 11, are also able to read NFC tags through the Launch Center Pro application.

NFC is also available on Apple tablets from the iPad Pro, iPad Air 2 and the third generation iPad Mini, although those devices will not work with contactless readers. For a complete breakdown of all Apple devices that support NFC and what their limitations are in terms of Apple Pay, see this Apple support page.

Devices with Android 4.0 and later

If your device is running Android 4.4 or a later version, you can use Google Pay. If you have a Samsung device, you can also use Samsung Pay. Phones between Android 4.4 and Android 9.0 can use Android Beam (to be replaced by Google Fast Share on Android 10), to exchange almost any type of information, such as YouTube videos, websites or contact information.

Android Beam can be enabled through the settings. The location may differ, but on a Samsung Galaxy S10, for example, it is in Settings> Connections> NFC and payment. First, activate NFC, then find Android Beam and turn it on. You can use Beam by placing your phone next to another NFC-enabled device for a few seconds. A message should automatically appear asking if you want to transmit information to the other phone or device.

What else can NFC do?

Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay and other digital wallets are only part of what NFC can do. Many technological accessories, such as speakers, take advantage of NFC to quickly pair with your phone. In some places, people can also use their cell phones to pay for the subway train ticket or to use benefit cards. Another more radical option is to implant an NFC chip in your body.

You can also use NFC tags for all kinds of things. For example, why not make coasters with NFC so that your visitors can access your Wi-Fi network with a simple touch?